Site chosen for new Denver patent office

Site chosen for new Denver patent office

Denver Business Journal by Mark Harden, New Media Editor

Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 4:50pm MDT

A downtown site has been selected for the Denver area’s long-sought U.S. Patent and Trademark Office satellite branch.

Space for the office has been leased at the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse at 1960 Stout St., the office of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announced late Wednesday.

Local officials have estimated that the local patent facility could mean $439 million in economic impact for the area over five years.

“This brings us one step closer to opening Colorado’s regional patent office and delivering the jobs and economic development that come with it,” Bennet — among the leaders in Denver’s effort to secure a patent office — said in a statement. “The patent office will firmly establish our state as a destination for inventors and entrepreneurs and bolster our reputation as a hotbed for cutting-edge industries with deeply embedded cultures of innovation.”

Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., said in July that the new Denver office will be “a game changer for Colorado and the Mountain West … [that] has the potential to create thousands of new jobs.”

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) officials announced July 2 that Denver would be one of three metro areas to be awarded a satellite branch, along with Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and San Jose, Calif.

> MORE: Leader of patent-office push says Denver’s win will spur tech, jobs (July 1, 2012)

Patent officials visit Denver, seek office site (July 12, 2012)

USPTO then spent several weeks scouting out potential locations for the Denver-area office. Potential sites that were considered reportedly included the federal center in Lakewood, the Stapleton area, the Denver Tech Center and the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

The Byron Rogers complex includes an 18-story office tower and courthouse. It was opened in 1965 to house the U.S. District Court for Colorado and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The structure recently has been undergoing a $144 million renovation.

The new Denver, Dallas and San Jose patent offices are to open by late 2014. The nation’s first satellite patent office opened in Detroit in July.

Federal officials, during a Denver visit in July, said the hiring of patent examiners, intellectual property experts, administrative law judges and others for the Denver office will begin in the next few months.

“Our vision for this office is to serve Denver — and states throughout this part of the country — better than ever before,” Rebecca Blank, acting U.S. commerce secretary, said during the visit. “We want to put more patents in the hands of enterprising Americans so that they can, in turn, attract capital and put their business plans into action.”

Blank’s Commerce Department oversees the USPTO.

The Denver office will require little or no taxpayer funds because patent fees fund its operations.

Denver had been one of several cities vying to land one of the new USPTO satellite offices. Landing the office has been a major goal of the city’s business and economic development leaders for years. They see it as a boost to Colorado’s bioscience, aerospace and alternative-energy industries and as a source of high-paying jobs.

The new satellite offices are being created under an amendment to a 2011 bill meant to speed up and streamline the overburdened patent system, which has remained virtually unchanged since the early 1950s. The bill’s backers were seeking faster turn-around on patent applications by the overworked USPTO and to spur jobs and innovation.

The 2011 amendment — sponsored by Bennet and Colorado’s other senator, Mark Udall — called on the USPTO to create three or more regional satellite patent offices across the country in the next few years.

Previously, all patents are processed through the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Va. The satellite offices are meant to speed up the patent process, which has a backlog of some 700,000 applications.

In January, Colorado business leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., to deliver a report making a case for why Denver should get a satellite patent office.

An economic impact study in the package submitted to the office estimates that a satellite office in Denver would bring hundreds of direct jobs and even more indirect jobs, as well as lead to economic activity totaling $439 million over the first five years of operation.

John Posthumus, Sheridan Ross PC attorney and shareholder, along with Thomas D. Franklin of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP in Denver and Monisha Merchant, Bennet’s senior adviser for business affairs, presented the package to government officials in January.

Their report argued that Denver is an ideal location for a satellite patent office because of the state’s ability to recruit highly educated technical and scientific workers, its high standard of living, reasonable costs, and access to Denver International Airport.

Colorado state lawmakers echoed the report in January, unanimously approving a resolution calling for a Denver satellite office. Senate Joint Resolution 8 noted that Colorado ranks among the states with the highest degree of college-educated workers, has an international airport with direct flights to 160 cities and is home to research universities seeking patents for inventions.

It also stated that the Denver metro region is home to the highest number of federal employees per capita in any major U.S. city other than Washington, which should enable the federal government to find office space it can share to set up the new patent office.

The DBJ’s Heather Draper contributed reporting.

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